Wild Card Weekend Roundup

Well, that was disappointing.  Wild Card Weekend was very sad and boring.  We only had one good game!  It had to be the last one too!

Carolina-27 Arizona-16

I didn’t know how to feel about this game over the course of last week.  Carolina had barely made the playoffs by winning the NFL’s worst division.   We were playing our 3rd string quarterback.  It’s a disaster!  How was this a playoff game?

Of course, for the first time in history, ESPN got a NFL playoff game to broadcast, and it had to be this dumpster fire?  Sucks for them.

Anyways, this was just stupid.  Neither team played well.  Carolina scraped it out.  They took a 10-0 early lead, and I could already tell where this game was headed.  The offense was a disaster with Ryan Lindley at QB.  They couldn’t do anything.  The running game wouldn’t work, and throwing the ball was just to risky.  Did I mention they put up the fewest yards in a postseason game ever with 78?  That’s how bad it was.

Turnovers also really costed the Cardinals the game, which is funny because, the Panthers had three turnovers, matching Arizona.  Carolina played better than us, but man, I wouldn’t be scared of them, who have they beat this year?  Also, who has blown them out?   They can run the ball well though, rushing for 188 yards as a team Saturday.  Jonathan Stewart carried the bulk of those yards due to DeAngelo Williams’ injury.

The Panthers lost two fumbles, one coming from a failed punt return, where Brenton Bersin tried to catch it with his knees I guess (we’ll have another knee catch later).  The turnover gave Arizona it’s first score of the day, with Ryan Lindley threw a TD pass to Darren Fells, putting them on the board with the score being 10-7.  I had hope at that point.

Then, later in the second quarter, a Cam Newton interception gave Arizona the ball at the Carolina one yard line, thanks to a big return by Antonio Cromartie.  Marion Grice took it into the end zone, and the Cardinals were up 14-13 at halftime.

In the third quarter, is where having Ryan Lindley at QB was truly exposed.  It wasn’t only that however.  This Cardinals defense, who has won multiple games this year and last, completely collapsed yesterday.  In all likelihood, this was something that was supposed to go right, and it didn’t.  The Cardinals missed tons of tackles, that gave Carolina big chunk plays, setting them up.  This, if anything, was supposed to keep them in the game, and in the third, it let them down.

First, the Panthers drove down the field, and thanks to terrible defense, and scored on a Cam Newton TD pass, putting them up 20-14.  On the kickoff, Ted Ginn Jr. fumbled, and Carolina recovered in the red zone.  At this point, I knew it would get ugly fast.  And it did.  It did just that.

Four plays later, big boy Mike Tolbert was in the end zone on a rushing TD.  27-14 Panthers.  I knew it was over, and we still had more than a quarter left to play.

With 11:53 left in the game though, the Panthers fumbled again, and Arizona recovered inside the ten yard line.  I thought, that a score here could spark something.

But no, Ryan Lindley forces a ball, and it goes for one of the worst interceptions you will ever see.  It was just terrible.

Anyways, the fact that me, or anyone else thought the Cardinals could make a playoff run with Lindley at QB was insane.  I wasn’t feeling it.  I knew this game could get ugly, even though the Panthers do suck.  You have to have a QB in this league.  The Cardinals didn’t have one on their biggest stage.

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 9.09.55 AM
This just makes me sad.

It only makes you think what this team could’ve done completely healthy.  I’m proud of them.  It was a hard season, dealing with all the injuries.  We won 11 games, better than I thought.  The injuries though, just came to be too much, especially when you have them at your most valuable position.

The Larry Fitzgerald contract issue is something I’m not worried about.  When the time comes, I’ll get to it. It’s not something I’ll enjoy talking about.

Baltimore-30 Pittsburgh-17

Last week, I had convinced myself, even with all the hatred I have for the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise, that this was a team that could end up playing in the Super Bowl.  They had everything they needed.  I liked them and New England as the AFC’s top contenders.  That changed quickly.

Really, I have liked Baltimore all season.  I knew they would get in.  The question was, how far would they make it?  I honestly didn’t see them beating Pittsburgh.  This Ravens team hadn’t been looking good the past three weeks.  They didn’t look playoff worthy to me.

Those last three weeks of the season, the Ravens’ offense couldn’t get going.  Slow starts had plagued them.  They would fall behind, and come close to losing.  You can’t do that in the playoffs.  And Saturday, they didn’t.

Funny I say that, because Baltimore didn’t score till the second quarter.  The Steelers led 3-0 after the first quarter.  It was the fact that, Pittsburgh didn’t do anything either.

In the second quarter, the Ravens went down the field and scored on a rushing TD, going up 7-3.  Another field goal by Pittsburgh followed.  The Steelers were playing without Le’Veon Bell.  I didn’t think it would have this big of an impact.  I thought, that without Bell, they would throw the ball more against a pretty bad Baltimore secondary.

Ben Rothlisberger didn’t have a good game with a 37.8 QBR. The Steelers didn’t score a TD in the first half.  It wasn’t a start anyone saw coming.  If anything, I expected Baltimore to start that way.

The Ravens didn’t run the ball either.  They didn’t have to though.  Joe Flacco is a different player in the playoffs.  With a 85.9 QBR, Flacco threw for 259 yards and 2 TD’s.  He plays at a different level.  There are some players and teams that are like that.  “It’s playoff time, let’s kick it up a notch”.

To add to Pittsburgh’s slow start, the Steelers turned the ball over three times.  Two Big Ben interceptions cost them, and a Heath Miller fumble cost them while trying to make a comeback down 13 at the end of the game.

The third quarter was all Baltimore, and it gave them a 11 point lead after a Justin Tucker field goal and a Joe Flacco TD pass.

The Steelers answered soon after, cutting the lead to 20-15.

The next couple scores were all Baltimore.  A field goal and a Joe Flacco TD pass put the Ravens up 30-15 with 7:56 remaining.  The Steelers never came back from it.

Baltimore beat my expectations.  I was rooting for them, truthfully.  I’ve kinda been a Ravens bandwagon fan.  If they’re in the playoffs, and my teams aren’t, I root for them.  I love Joe Flacco as a player, and I love Ozzie Newsome as a GM.

Pittsburgh had one bad game, and it let them down.  I didn’t think missing Le’Veon Bell would have that big of an impact.  It killed them on Saturday.  That’s how valuable and great he is.  Now, we have a division winner knocked out early.  A division winner that we could have seen in the Super Bowl.  Welcome to the Playoffs.

It’s a disappointing end to a great season for the Steelers.  They finally have big time offensive weapons.  Now, they have to capitalize on it.

One of those Rothlisberger interceptions was made by Terrell Suggs, who actually caught the ball with his knees.

Indianapolis-26 Cincinnati-10

There was two ways this game would play out: 1) The Bengals offense and Andy Dalton don’t do anything 2) Both offenses are on fire and it’s a shootout.

It turned out to be #1.  It’s not like though, Andy Dalton threw three interceptions and cost his team the game.  The Bengals did nothing offensively.  Dalton didn’t have a great game, but no one gave him help.  His offensive line gave him no protection, leading to rushed throws.  A.J. Green, the Bengals top target, was out with a concussion.

Cincinnati’s defense didn’t do a whole lot either.  They got no pressure on Andrew Luck, and their secondary couldn’t cover, leading Luck to throw for 376 yards and a TD, while only missing 13 throws.  The Colts ran the ball, but not with the guy you’d expect.  Boom Herron ran for 56 yards and a TD.  Trent Richardson didn’t even touch the football.  That tells you that the Colts have finally realized that he pretty much sucks.

The Bengals couldn’t score Sunday.  10 points isn’t enough, especially against an Andrew Luck lead offense.  Cincy had trouble running too, which is a little concerning given who the Colts started on the defensive line.

Andrew Luck is just phenomenal.  There is not much around him on this team.  He just makes things happen, like this:

I mean, he was on the run, and falling down.  That TD catch put the Colts up 20-10 after a slow 3rd quarter start from both teams.  Really, the Colts dominated this game.  There’s no point of going through this.  The Bengals did almost nothing all day.  They didn’t get a first down till the 4th quarter.

This wasn’t a complete shock though.  The Bengals and Andy Dalton have never been good in playoff games.  Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in his postseason career as a coach.  Dalton takes a dump in every primetime game, it seems.  Lots of people saw this coming.

Though, the Colts hadn’t looked great the past couple weeks.  It led some to believe this might be contested.  But then, you remind yourself the Colts had nothing to play for the last three weeks of the season.  Their division sucks!  It didn’t matter.

Again, it’s another playoff meltdown for Cincinnati.  It’s the same way every year.  Really, there’s not a lot else to say.  The criticism will reign on, deservedly so.

Dallas-24 Detroit-20

This was easily the game of the weekend.  This is how playoff games should be.  I mean, this thing went down to wire.

In the beginning, it looked like another one of these Cowboys games where they get blown out due to bad defense and stagnant offense.  The Lions took a 14-0 after the first quarter.  Golden Tate caught a 51 yard pass from Matthew Stafford for the first TD, due to a Dallas defender slipping on the play.

So yea, it wasn’t the greatest start for Dallas.  Maybe if Tony Romo had thrown a pick, it would’ve been even worse.

Simply, the Cowboys just needed to wake up.  It took them a while.  A 71 yard TD catch by Terrence Williams got Jerry’s World jumping before halftime, but Dallas still trailed 17-7 at the break.

Look, we knew something crazy would happen to end this game.  Whether the Cowboys came back (cough, cough) or Detroit scored 60 more points, something was coming.

Turns out, a field goal that the Lions kicked with 8:41 left in the third quarter was their last score.

From there, turnovers and bad officiating (really don’t want to get into that) plauged Detroit, and Dallas scored two more TD’s plus a field goal.  With 2:32 left, Terrence Williams caught another TD pass, putting the Cowboys up 24-20.  On a beautiful drive, spanning just over 5:30, the pass won the game for the Cowboys.  It was a great play overall, with Tony Romo stepping up in the pocket, then making the throw.

So what went wrong for Detroit?  Well, a frozen offense in the second half didn’t help, but the defense allowed Dallas to score multiple times.  You can blame the refs all you want, but it wasn’t just them.  The Lions defense is really good, yet you didn’t expect this to happen.  It’s a disappointing way to end youR season.  Even though I’ve felt Detroit’s defense was overrated, it was good enough for me to think they would hold on to this game.

As for the Cowboys, I mean, what’d you expect?  It’s the Dallas (whatever word of your preference) Cowboys.  They pull off crazy stuff or blow it.  One of the other.  All I will say: Have fun next week, Dallas

Next Week: Divisional Round


Baltimore-New England, 4:35 PM EST

Carolina-Seattle, 8:15 EST


Dallas-Green Bay, 1:05 PM EST

Indianapolis-Denver, 4:40 PM EST

Previewing the New Years Six, Part 2

We’re jumping right into these next three games, no jive.

Cotton Bowl: No.8 Michigan State vs. No.5 Baylor, New Years Day, 12:30 PM EST

I’m going to be honest here.  I love this Baylor team.  I’ve defended them since my preview at the beginning of the season.  I had them in playoff.  They got screwed.  It wasn’t their fault.  It’s too bad.  Something needs to change.

I’ll probably write a column about this, but Michigan State, you could make a case, that they got screwed too.  How?  Well, we need eight teams.

(I’m getting ahead of myself)

As for this game, there is one true matchup that will decide it.

Baylor’s offense is incredible.  They can absolutely dominate you.  It a matter of minutes you can be down two plus possessions.  They attack that fast.  The more stunning part about is that they attack from everywhere.  They can throw and run the ball.  The balanced offense is a trip.  The Bears average 581 yards of offense a game.  346 of those come from the air.

With the offensive assault, they put up close to 49 points a game.  There is no way you can stop them.

Unless your Michigan State, who has one of the Nation’s best defenses.  This is the key matchup.

The Spartans run defense is their highlight.  They only allow 97.5 rushing yards a game.  Michigan State has multiple playmakers within their front seven that contribute to this.  Not only do they shut you down, and not allow first downs, but they don’t give up points.  The Spartans give up just under 20 points a game.  The defense is totally stout.  Baylor’s quest will be scoring on it.

Baylor’s defense isn’t great, but it’s enough that it got them here (let’s just keep it at that).

I expect this game, like others during this New Years Six, to be a shootout.  I’m not sure there is anyone who can stop the Bears’ offense.  Michigan State will have trouble defending it.  Their problem, is if they can answer the amount of points Baylor puts up.

It’s not that they can’t.  The Spartans have a great quarterback in Connor Cook, and have decent running game to compliment him.  However, if the rushing game can’t get going, the Spartans may have to throwing more they would like too.  That could result in some trouble.  Prediction: Baylor-50 Michigan State-28


This is a very emotional portion of this column for me.  The College Football Playoff is amazing.  It is so much better than what we’ve had since 1998.  It does need changes, but that we will worry about later.

See, I wasn’t going to even write about college football this year.  I would still watch it, yea, but, what’s the point of covering it, when it has a cheesy and bad ending?  When the wrong team plays in or wins the National Championship?

We will make this thing incredible.  It already is.  It can be better.

Anyways, it’s finally here.  It’s playoff time, in college football.

Playoff #1: No.1 Alabama vs. No.4 Ohio State, New Years Day, 8:30 PM EST

I hate both of these teams (That’s a nice way to start).  Straight up.  I don’t like either one.  I’m going to dread seeing one of these teams playing for the National Championship.

One, Ohio State doesn’t belong here.  I sound like I’m ranting, and really, I kinda am.   I’m going to get into to it, but I don’t like that they’re here.

Two, I think Alabama is over-rated.  Don’t get me wrong, they deserve to be here.  They won the SEC, the best conference in the Nation.

Let’s talk about Alabama first:

Their defense is outstanding.  Like Michigan State, they have incredible linebackers who stuff the run.  Teams can’t get above 90 yards rushing on them.  Teams can’t score on them either.  They shut you down.

Ohio State is the Arizona Cardinals of college.  Their guys get hurt, someone comes up, and plays great.  Then they get hurt, and it turns to slosh.  But that is where the road turns for Ohio State.

So yea, they’re a little hard to figure out.  Wait, do you remember who Braxton Miller is?

Cardale Jones was great in the BIG 10 Championship Game.  He’s a really good quarterback, from what I saw.  Ohio State will have to find others ways to move the ball though.  Meaning, they will have to be creative.  If Alabama shuts down Ohio State’s offense, it’s not over.  It means we have a final score below 14 points.

Alabama has great players on their offense.  With as-always amazing running backs and one of the best receivers in the Nation, they don’t need much else.

Honestly, they don’t have much else.  I’ve never been under the impression Blake Sims is a good QB.  Not once.  His accuracy seems wobbly.  I’ve never seen him throw a ball where I go “Wow, that a was great throw.”  He’s a game-manager.  He preforms well due to what is around him.  The play-makers around him are so good, he doesn’t have to do much.

I know that Alabama is really good.  I know they deserve to be here.  I get it.  But, when you go up against teams that have been on a tear.  Teams who have surprised us, that’s when it gets scary.  The chance that Ohio State pulls this off is very high.  It won’t be in blowout fashion.  It won’t be in game-winning form.  This will be smash-mouth, defensive football.  Ohio State can shut down Alabama.  It’s if, they can answer.  That’s the problem..  Prediction: Alabama-17 Ohio State-14

Before we get into the next game, I want to look back.  I want to look back at my predictions for this Playoff, because the parallels, are hilarious.

Well, Well , Well.
Well, Well , Well.

This is, somewhat hitius?

I did pretty good.  I had two teams in, and the one team who got screwed.  But the four seed, I don’t want to talk about it.  Remember when we thought Oklahoma was going to be good?

Take a look at that National Championship.  That’s where we’re going next, in the first round.

Playoff #2: No.2 Oregon vs. No.3 Florida State, New Years Day, 5:00 PM EST

This is going to be fun.  Really fun.

Florida State has played two or three good teams this year.  That’s it.  I don’t believe that they’re overrated, but this is a game that could expose that.  Oregon’s offense, like Baylor’s, is absolutely incredible.  They can attack from anywhere.  The Ducks though, use the run a bit better.  Oregon averages 546 yards of offense a game.  308 of those come from Marcus Mariota in the passing game.  Mariota won the Heisman a few weeks back.  He’s really good.  He is going to play well, every game.  Oregon averages 46 points a game.  They score a lot.  It’s something the Florida State defense will have to, well, try their best at.

This game is all about the offenses and the quarterback matchup.  These are the past two years’ Heisman winners.  It’s all about them.  Defense will be extinct in this game.  It’s all about who can outscore the other.

Florida State mostly throws the ball.  Winston has huge arm, and nice mobility.  He can throw on the run too. Out of 434 yards of offense the Seminoles gain each game, close to 300 of them come from the pass.  Florida State doesn’t score as much as Oregon.  Turnovers interrupt their drives.  That’s a team thing.  It’s something you have to limit.  Do your job, and they won’t happen.  The players on this team are too good for it to be blamed on one person.

Again, I don’t think defense is a factor in this game.  Florida State’s defense is a lot better, as they have great secondary play.  Both teams give up third down completions like crazy.  There will be some long drives in this game.

This will be a drama-filled, crazy ending game.  That’s pretty accustom to Florida State.  I’d say that four or five of their games this season ended that way.  They sneak games out.  But against Oregon, you don’t sneak games out.  You have to play till the end.  Florida State can’t start slow tonight.  Oregon will jump on them.  I expect this game to go down-to-the-wire.  Last possession wins.  Prediction:  Oregon-48 Florida State-45

National Championship Prediction: Oregon vs. Alabama, January 12th, 8:00 PM EST

Have fun on New Years Day.  Don’t forget, not only do we have New Years Six games, but the Citrus Bowl and Outback Bowl are on today.  I will have a preview and roundup column of the National Championship when it comes around.